Formulate guidelines for COVID-19 death certificates: SC gives another chance to Centre

Supreme Court stays demolition drive in violence-hit Delhi's Jahangirpuri
SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday granted yet another opportunity to the Centre to formulate uniform guidelines for issuance of death certificates with regard to those who succumbed to COVID-19.
A two-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice MR Shah and also comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose today granted 10 more days time to the Union of India (UOI) to frame and formulate uniform guidelines for issuance of death certificates with regard to those who succumbed to COVID-19.
The Apex Court also asked the Centre to file a compliance affidavit latest by September 11 and fixed the matter for further hearing on September 13, Monday.
The top court had in its last hearing on August 16, also allowed the plea of the Central government, for 4 weeks more time to the UOI to frame the guidelines on ex-gratia assistance and compensation to the families of people who died due to COVID-19.
The Apex Court had directed the Centre to submit any action report on the other guidelines as referred to in the earlier judgment authored by Justice Shah, and comprising of Justice (Now Retired) Ashok Bhushan, on June 30, 2021.
The Central Government had filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking extension of time to comply with the earlier judgment pronounced by Justice (Now Retired) Bhushan in the petitions filed by lawyers, seeking ex- Gratia compensation for those family members, who died due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Supreme Court had in its judgement on June 30, directed the Central government to frame guidelines to pay ex gratia compensation to the families of those who died due to COVID-19.
A three-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice (Retired now) Ashok Bhushan, in its judgement, had on June 30, 2021, directed the NDMA to ascertain within six weeks whether the ex-gratia amount that can be paid to the family members of those who died due to COVID victim.
The Apex Court also had said in its judgement that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), is statutorily mandated to provide the minimum amount of relief, including ex-gratia amount of compensation to the Covid affected victims.
“If it (NDMA) fails in not providing ex-gratia amount of compensation, then the NDMA has failed in discharging its statutory duty”, the Apex Court said in its judgement.
The Top Court had passed the judgement on June 30, 2021, after hearing the petitions filed by two lawyers, Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal.
The lawyer duo, had moved the Apex Court seeking direction to the authorities concerned, to provide ex-gratia monetary compensation of Rs 4 lakhs (notified in the financial aid) to the family members of the deceased, succumbed to COVID-19, as per MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) letter in view of Section 12 of The Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The petitioners, in their pleas, filed before the Supreme Court, had sought immediate appropriate directions to the concerned authorities to pay financial help as laid down by the Central government in its statute and rules to the family members of the deceased, who succumbed to COVID-19 pandemic.
The petitioners had said that “it is the right of the family members to know the real cause of death of their family member/relative on any official document,” and they cited that “the medical officers have not been conducting post mortem of the persons who are dying due to COVID-19.”
The petitioners have approached the Supreme Court seeking directions to the respondent States to issue death certificates/ any letter to the families of deceased stating therein cause of death.
The petitions said that keeping in view the spread of the COVID-19 virus in India and the declaration of COVID-19, as a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO), by way of special onetime dispensation, it has been decided to treat it as notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under SDRF (State Disaster Response Force).